Every night is hard in the Big Ten, especially on the road.
In its first two road trips of conference play, Nebraska has made things especially hard on itself.
Maryland freshman Jalen Smith hit a floater with 3.8 seconds left, and the Terrapins knocked off No. 24 Nebraska 74-72 Wednesday in College Park, Maryland.
"We’ve just got to stay big picture in that, there’s going to be a lot more games like this, and we’ve just got to figure out how to come out on top," Nebraska coach Tim Miles said postgame on the Husker Sports Radio Network. "We’ve had two road games where we’ve played well enough to win, we just haven’t done enough."
Smith's bucket was the final blow in a game of wild swings both ways. The largest lead either team had was Nebraska's eight-point advantage with 15:30 left.
But much like their loss at Minnesota in early December, the Huskers couldn't close out a road game with a multiple-possession second-half lead.
With numerous opportunities to extend its advantage to double digits, Nebraska instead saw Maryland rally with a 12-3 run to erase the deficit and take a 51-50 lead with 11:48 left.
From there, neither team led by more than four the rest of the way.
"I think it really came down to, we missed a lot of free throws early in the second half, so we weren't able to build on anything," Miles said. "Then we had a seven- or eight-point lead and turned it over a couple times, too. So … when we had a chance to build, we didn't do it."
James Palmer had 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists and five steals, and put Nebraska (11-3, 1-2 Big Ten) up 71-70 with a steal and a jam with 2:13 left.
That was Nebraska's last field goal. Smith's putback off a missed three-pointer put Maryland up 72-71, and he hit the game-winner after Palmer split a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left to tie the game. Smith scored Maryland's final eight points and finished with 15 to go with four rebounds.
Nebraska's three-point defense — fourth in the country and first in the Big Ten in allowing opponents to shoot 25 percent — was gouged for 47 percent shooting by the Terps, who finished 8-for-17. A 73 percent free-throw shooting team, the Huskers finished 15-for-23 (65 percent) from the stripe.
Nebraska committed just 10 turnovers, but the Terps converted those into 17 points while the Huskers managed 11 points off 13 Maryland giveaways.
That was just a sample of Nebraska's missed chances.
There was a lob at the rim the Huskers couldn't convert. NU missed its first three free throws to start the second half.
Those failures came as Maryland (11-3, 2-1) missed 12 of 13 shots spanning the end of the first period and the start of the second.
Instead of potentially opening up a double-digit lead, Nebraska led by five. Maryland then made 14 of its last 22 shots from the field over the game's final 14:31.
Bruno Fernando brutalized Nebraska in the paint for the second year in a row as the 6-foot-10 sophomore finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds. Anthony Cowan, after being shut down in last season's matchup, scored 19 points to go with four assists and two steals.
"You can't give them both. You can't give up offensive rebounds here and there, but you also can't give up the threes," Miles said. "One thing I could understand is if we were getting beat up a little bit on the glass, but giving up the threes, too, really hurt."
Glynn Watson had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists for NU but scored just four points over the final 26 minutes.
Isaiah Roby, back in the starting lineup after missing the Southwest Minnesota State game with a groin injury, had 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. On the game's final possession, Roby appeared to break free for a lob, but Maryland broke up the play.
Isaac Copeland, Nebraska's second-leading scorer at 14.4 points per game, was held to eight, with five of those coming in the first 10 minutes.
Nebraska goes on the road again Sunday with a game at Iowa.
"We've got a good team, this is a great league, and we've just got to keep fighting," Miles said. "And regardless of what goes on at Iowa, we're going to show up ready to battle, bounce back, and find a way to get a win."